For new college students, choosing a major sets the course of their lifetime earning potential, yet most students study what they enjoy rather than considering their future income. Americans spend 80,000 hours working during their lifetime, so liking one's job is important, but overlooking future earning potential can have lasting negative consequences. A Princeton University study found that Americans who earn $75,000 a year are happier than those who earn less. Comparing job opportunities and related salaries for potential majors before graduating could lead to greater happiness later in life. Especially since student debt levels continue to rise, with the class of 2015 owing an average of $35,000. Before declaring a major, students should check out PayScale's annual college salary report, which ranks the highest paying college majors according to salary data from recent graduates. The CliffsNotes version of PayScale's highest paying college majors can be summed up in one word: engineering. Actuarial mathematics is the only non-engineering major to make the top ten list. The other top ten highest paying majors range from petroleum engineering to computer engineering to electrical engineering. That's especially true for women. Among recent college graduates, women tend to slightly outearn men when they choose engineering as their major, according to a recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. TheStreet's Lauren Lyons Cole reports from New York.
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